It was an honour and a pleasure to attend the 200th anniversary celebrations for Kilwinning Abbey Tower on Saturday.
This tower is one of North Ayrshire’s best known landmarks and tribute must be paid to the fantastic group of volunteers from Kilwinning Heritage who work so selflessly to bring to life stories of the Abbey, allowing the visiting public to appreciate the Abbey’s rich, varied and fascinating history.
The Abbey site is unusual in that the three buildings on it have separate owners - the Old Parish Church is owned by the Church of Scotland, the medieval Abbey ruins are in the care of Historic Environment Scotland, and the tower itself is owned by North Ayrshire Council.
It is staffed by members of Kilwinning Heritage, who during the summer months, run a small museum there three afternoons a week. Visitors from all over the UK and further afield are escorted up 143 spiral steps to the roof for views of the town and countryside.
Today, the tower, along with the Abbey’s surviving South Transept, is an iconic image of the town of Kilwinning. Its size and shape means it can be seen clearly from the hills above the Three Towns to Irvine Harbour, and the people of the town are rightly proud of it and the traditions it represents.